One of Star Trek: Discovery‘s best villains in the first season was Captain Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs. In an interview with StarTrek.com, Isaacs speaks about his time on the show and what he enjoyed about the experience.
At first, Isaacs thought Discovery would just be a typical sci-fi acting job. “Someone asked me what has surprised me most doing Star Trek, and I hadn’t expected that question,” he said. “I only really think when I talk, as my friends and family will tell you. So, as I blabbered on, I realized that I’d gone into it looking forward to being part of a fabulous sci-fi yarn, and it had slowly dawned on me that it was a series born out of the civil rights movement and Cold War, and that our season of Discovery was genuinely but subtlety addressing the increased racism and tribalism and divisiveness of the political world, and the debate around immigration and assimilation that’s happening, certainly in Europe and in America. The whole message of a diversity and inclusion, all these things that might seem like they have no place in entertainment, are a huge part of the Star Trek legacy. I hadn’t realized that stuff.”
Isaacs enjoyed playing a man with a secret. “It was fucking awesome,” said Isaacs. “All actors ever want is to have a secret to play, and I had the biggest secret ever. I had a huge hidden agenda, and acting is all about the things you’re holding back from the camera and not the things you’re doing.”
It should have been obvious to those watching that something was up with Lorca, said Isaacs. “It’s all there from the beginning,” he said. “It’s there in some of the more obvious physical things, like the eyes narrowing. Actually, that’s not obvious because who knows what happens when you go through a tear in the universe. But just the things that I don’t remember. The fact that I’m clearly in breach of every part of Starfleet’s ethical universe, and I’m pushing Stamets to jump. And, with Burnham, there’s no reason at all why I should have singled out this woman and brought her to the ship, and given her a pass, and got her out of jail. All of the interaction with Jayne (Brook), with the Admiral. They’re not just breadcrumbs [being dropped]; I left huge baguettes.”
Saying goodbye was hard for Isaacs. For his last shot, where he falls down the pit, “all of the cast, and the ones who weren’t working as well, had come in and they were waving, ‘Find Prime Lorca’ banners, and chanting ‘Find Prime Lorca,'” he said. “And I was a mess. I adore them all. I always knew that this was the storyline. It was a storyline we discussed before I took the job. I wanted to know fully what my secret agenda would be, so I could play it properly. It felt like a fully satisfying, perfectly structured thing to do, but on that last day I felt terrible regret as I looked at them.”
Is there a Discovery future for Prime Lorca? “He’s out there,” said Isaacs. I’m just saying.”